There are few upcoming games that excite me more than Monster Hunter: World. After an initial bout of skepticism over the move to a more intuitive open-world setting, every successive piece of new gameplay shown and every detail expounded on makes me all the more eager to rejoin Capcom's 'Cavepunk' world after a long hiatus.
Capcom must be feeling confident too, as they're letting everyone throw footage of the game around. The latest slab is coming courtesy of Japanese site Dengeki Online. This time, 20 minutes of hacking, slashing, cooking and character-creating. There's a little bit of Japanese text here with no translation (yet), but this is largely footage that speaks for itself.
The first chunk of footage is largely focused on the most exciting parts of Monster Hunter - the big weapons and the even bigger monsters that you'll be using them on - and almost exclusively focused on long-range combat using bow and gun. Perhaps not the most efficient way to deal damage in the series, but easily the best way to get a good view of a monster and learn its attack patterns from safely outside of its natural attack range, and thus a natural pick for a gameplay video.
I ended up skipping the 3DS entries in the series, but bow combat in this latest Monster Hunter iteration is looking a lot more interesting than I remember, and more than a little reminiscent of Dragon's Dogma. No longer is a bow just an arrow delivery method, but a multifunctional launcher capable of multi-arrow charged spread attacks and launching air-detonated bombardment shells. Not traditional bow-and-arrow behavior, granted, but fitting for a world packed to the gills with nigh-invulnerable terror-beasts.
One particularly exciting featured creature in this video is the Tobi-Kadachi, a large but agile blue-white quadruped lizard with some mammalian quirks to its design, including flying squirrel-esque webbing to allow for gliding attacks, as well as a large fanned tail that it can use for broad slapping attacks. It's also capable of channeling electricity through its body, making it likely capable of doling out the ever-frustrating paralysis status ailment. I especially love its animations for climbing up and leaping off tall trees and cliff walls - very convincingly animalistic.
The second chunk of Dengeki's footage is far more closely focused on the nitty-gritty of Monster Hunting life, including a peek at the character creation system (both for yourself and your feline Palico companion) and a whirlwind tour of some of the non-combat things you'll be doing, including getting your weapons tricked out at the blacksmith's forge.
Most adorable by far is a trip to the kitchens of the famous Meowscular Chef (no, seriously, that's the official translation), who looks like a cat better suited to punching dinosaurs in the face, but has dedicated his life to the culinary arts. The cooking animations are nothing short of phenomenal, and the food looks delicious too. Cooking and eating has always been part of Monster Hunter, but never has it left me hungry and drawing up dinner plans just from looking at pre-release footage.
Outside of town, the video shows some of the practicalities of living in the world of Monster Hunter, including the new world map and navigation, and a little bit of field cooking. There's also a peek at using your handy swarm of scout-flies to point you towards specific ingredients to brew up healing potions, making gathering a much more free-flowing experience; just keep running on through the world while the game calls out important items for you.
One interesting choice shown is the decision to keep the map of each zone split up into distinct, numbered segments. In earlier games, this was because the entire world was broken up into rooms with loading transitions between them, but in the more open environment of Monster Hunter: World, they're a good navigational aid.
Being able to call out 'It's headed to area 12' to a party will undoubtedly speed up the process of learning the maps. Last thing shown here is a bit of footage of the players fighting a Barroth, a creature returning from earlier games. It's the sturdy-looking shovel-headed beastie covered in mud which doubles as armor plating when dried.
This footage sets my last fears over Monster Hunter: World to rest. This is the Monster Hunter I've known and loved (in spite of its many flaws) since the PS2 era, now with almost all of those thorny design issues removed. One thing that seems especially improved to me is the verticality of the game. It's not so much that there are platforms and ledges, but natural variances in height, and very few truly flat pieces of ground. The fact that the monsters navigate so gracefully across this terrain is a testament to Capcom's animators.
Monster Hunter: World is set for release on consoles next January, with a PC release to follow soon after.